The journey

I am on the journey to becoming a published author.

I am already an author. I have already finished two first drafts of novels. I have several more in the works. I have written a myriad of short stories. I am an author.

I am now attempting to make money doing it.

Right now, that entails creating some social media channels – right now, that’s youtube, instagram, and facebook. I’ve also set up a website that will have a blog – all dedicated to my authoring journey.

I have editing to do, I have blog posts to write, I have videos to record and edit, a study to print, assemble, and mail… the list seems to go on and on. I feel overwhelmed. I feel perpetually behind.

I am wondering right now if it’s going to be worth it. I am wondering if I can do this. I am wondering if I can make this work. I am wondering a lot of things. I feel a lot of things – most of them are negative right now. I wonder and wonder and wonder. I try to move on and just do one thing at a time but it’s hard. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough free time. I have too many other responsibilities, most of which involve the two tiny darlings of my heart.

How do I continue? Do I just keep plugging away, one piece at a time? Do I stop and throw in the towel? Do I acknowledge all the feelings and let them overwhelm me?

I’ve already broken this down into the smallest steps possible and it seems like so many steps. It seems impossible to do.

Really, though, what else can I do?

I must carry on though, must I not? What else can I do? One step, one little box on my spreadsheet at a time. One spec of free time at a time. That’s all I can do. Nothing more. Nothing less.

To pursue our dreams will always take work. It will always take sacrifice. It will always take just a little bit more than we think we have. So we push on, we move forward, we do what we need to do. We don’t let feelings get in our way of what needs to be done.

Push on, friends. Do that one thing you need to do to pursue your dream. And so will I.

 

 

 

Honor Who I Am and Where I’m At

I’ve been trying to incorporate exercise and daily movement back into my routine of life and right now I’m going through Yoga Revolution  over at Yoga with Adriene. The theme of Day 3 is honor who I am and where I’m at every day when I step onto the mat. Or just in life.

As I was going through the practice and she repeated that phrase over and over again, I really thought about who I am and where I am in life.

Recently, my friend Katie wrote a post about an interaction we had over text message. I was so blessed to read this post because after my second or third reply, I started to get this nagging feeling that I was annoying her. That I was bothering her and I needed to close down the conversation so that she could get back to things that weren’t, well, annoying. Like me.

You see, friends, this is where I am in life. I am constantly worried about annoying people. Let’s get some honest truth going on around here for a moment. I was ANNOYING as a kid. I was loud. I was energetic. I was obnoxious. I didn’t know when to quit or shut up. Oh Lord have mercy I was a handful. At least, that’s how I perceived myself. I suppose there are those around here who could probably speak to the accuracy of that statement, but I didn’t bother polling them yet again some random question.

I had a hard time making and keeping friends in school – in elementary, my closest friends always seemed to move away. In high school, I had friends, yes, but they were kind of strange friendships that ebbed and flowed and cycled and recycled. In college, I made some questionable friend choices. From ALL my  years of schooling, I still talk to ONE person on a regular basis. A small handful of others on a very irregular basis. And maybe a large handful of still others with whom I connect on social media (which to say we’re facebook friends but very little if ANY interaction actually occurs).

This lack of solid friendships has led me to believe that I am in some manner defective, because I am the constant in ALL of these relationships, and that other people would rather be around or talk to pretty much anyone but me. I imagine people rolling their eyes when a text from me pops onto their phone. I hesitate calling people because they are probably doing something much more important than talking to me.

This is where I’m at, friends. So, to circle back around to Katie, to read that she was blessed by our conversation, that she was excited to engage in it, that it actually made a difference in her day was INCREDIBLE. It had never occurred to me that she might feel that way. That she might be glad someone is excited about a project she’s working on.

I struggle a fair bit with doubt. Maybe this is normal. Maybe it isn’t. I doubt all kinds of things about myself. I have a hard time seeing the good things. I easily beat myself up over and over and over again about the bad stuff.

I don’t want to be like that anymore.

I used to think I needed to be someone else to be acceptable. If only I was Megan or Kristin or Ashlee or Kelly or Alli or Rachel or Anna or Jeney or Katie or Nicole or Kari – if only I was one of THEM instead of me, then people would like me. I spent a long time, years, imagining being someone else. Trying to be someone else. Never wanting to actually be me. Never really stopping to see who I was, what I liked, what made me special and unique, what made me likable. Never realizing that I was special or likable.

It’s only recently that I’ve begun to give myself a little credit and start exploring and EMBRACING what makes me unique. What makes me me. I’m finally embracing  my love of yarn crafts, of writing, of running, of reading, of connecting in a meaningful way with others. I have a gift of encouragement. I LOVE to see others succeed in their quests and journeys and goals. I LOVE helping to encourage them along. I love reminding them that yes, someone else cares about it too.

So stopping for a moment for another really honest moment. It’s been a real challenge to be an encourager because I always feel like I’m being an annoyance. Can you smell what I’m stepping in here?

God has been doing a real work in me lately to help shed some of these lies, to help me understand myself better. To give myself more grace. To see me as I really am and not as the twisted mess I see myself as. I have seriously spent so many years just surrendering to these demons, not even trying to fight them, that I cannot see myself clearly. I see my achievements as noteworthy and cool, but not who. I. am. Without those notches on my belt, who am I? What am I? Is there anything special about me at all?

Over the weekend, I tried very hard to honor myself – who I am and where I’m at in life. Instead of beating myself up, I tried to give myself some grace, to try to see some positivity.

Can you relate? At all?

Friends, it is high time we start seeing ourselves clearly. It is high time I start seeing MYSELF clearly. I only peel back one layer at a time, but I need to start working on those layers. I have to stop believing the lies that who I am as a person isn’t enough. I have to start seeing my hobbies as things I enjoy instead of things that give me worth.

I already have worth. As a human. As a child of God. I need NOTHING else to give me worth. To give me value. My worth, my value, just as a human, cannot be measured. It wouldn’t matter if I’d never done a thing in my entire life. My worth and value would still be far beyond measure.

It’s time we start seeing ourselves and living our lives in light of this truth.

Especially me.

 

 

 

 

Did this resonate with you today? Leave a note of encouragement below or hop on over to facebook and join in the discussion! Thank you for stopping by!

I See You

Do you ever feel unseen?

Perhaps you feel like nothing you do really matters or that those around you aren’t seeing what you do. Maybe your coworkers. Maybe your spouse. Maybe your children. Maybe your friends.

Maybe you, like me, find yourself wondering from time to time if anything you do matters. If anybody sees you.

I can speak most knowledgeably about being an at home parent, because that is what I do now. I stay home. I live behind my front doors, surrounded by people that come to my knee caps and have a very loose grasp of the English language, very little emotional control, and aren’t all that capable or coordinated. It can be really lonely sometimes, but from my years in the workforce, I know these feelings aren’t limited to living behind closed doors.

Maybe you feel like an outsider at work, like you’ve never really connected with anyone, like you live between two worlds of workers – those who like each other and those who despise each other. Maybe you don’t really directly work alongside anyone so you find you don’t have the chance to get to know anyone very well.

Or maybe you find yourself in an even more extreme situation where you really are alone. Family is far away, if even there. Friends are basically non-existent. Your coworkers make you want to stab yourself in the head so you actively avoid them. You felt judged that one time you went to church so you don’t have a faith community or the one you are a part of is really fake and empty (yeah, it happens).

It’s easy to feel unseen in life, as it fills up, as more and more things demand more and more time. As you get married, have kids, get a dog or two, have separate jobs, hobbies you try to pursue, faith you try to keep up – sometimes it all gets to be a lot and suddenly you look around and the space feels empty around you.

It’s nobody’s fault, though, right? Everyone is on that same train, riding that same ride, looking around at the same empty space once they stop for a moment.

It’s easy to forget that God promises to never leave us. All of us. Not just the ones that go to church.

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  –Deuteronomy 31:6

Moses was speaking to the Isrealites, commanding them to follow Joshua into the Promised Land. However, the situation could just as easily be God commanding us to follow Jesus in to our own personal promised lands.

Friends, God sees you. All the time.

I can be a friend that gets too busy to check in with other friends and suddenly I find it’s been two weeks since I talked to this person or that one. God isn’t like that. He’s a much better friend than I am. He’s always there, whenever I need someone. Maybe I pick a bad day to reach out to a friend when I’m having a rough day – maybe she’s in the hospital and can’t reach back because she seriously feels like her body is going to rupture with pain. God is always there. He’s never in the hospital. He never loses his phone or drops it in the toilet.

If you read the Gospels, which I highly recommend if you haven’t, I think you will see a common theme among Jesus’ interactions with people. In every encounter recorded, the person who is sick or seeking him is seen by him. He doesn’t just heal and run, he forgives sins, he reminds them to go and sin no more, he is astonished by their faith or by their lack of faith – he was a professional people seer.

I forget that all to quickly. I want a physical text or email or message back when things aren’t going well and I reach out. The irony is that I always find myself far more fulfilled when I spend that time I would have spent texting back and forth in prayer instead – the answers I receive in prayer are always more satisfying and reassuring.

Because God sees me.

He knows me. He knows my heart. He knows my situation. He knows the details I’m too ashamed or embarrassed to share with others.

So, friends, while I may not be the best at seeing you and others in your life might not see you as much as you want or need to be seen, remember that God sees you and he is just waiting for you to reach out and be seen by him.

Carry on, friends, and try to see someone else this week.

The insidious reality of weight loss talk

Several people over the past few weeks have asked me the innocent question “Have you lost weight?” followed up by the statement “You look great!”

I know these words were not spoken with any kind of ill-intent. Quite the opposite actually. I know these people were trying to build me up, to tell me they’ve noticed my work, to compliment my effort.

The truth though?

It’s not a compliment to me.

I don’t know if I’ve lost weight. I’m sure I have. My clothes fit differently, looser. I seem smaller when I look in the mirror. I don’t have a scale, though. Ever since my nephew broke ours when he jumped on it six years ago, there has been no scale in our house. That has been such a blessing because I could finally break free from the weight mentality that so easily ensnares us women. Or men. Or people. Weight is a big deal. And losing it is a really big deal.

Do you want to hear the really dark truth, though?

The past couple weeks, all I do when I walk by a mirror now is look at my body. I scrutinize it. Today, I put on my running clothes and then I stood profile and I just examined.

Hmm, yeah, my butt does look smaller. And I think my stomach doesn’t stick out as much as it used to. Still pretty big, though. And soft. That’s kinda gross. Boobs are full of milk, so they don’t count. Man, even my face looks more slender. That makes me look a little older, too, doesn’t it?  Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ve lost some weight. I wonder how much. I know it was 25 pounds a few months ago, it’s probably more now. I bet I’m getting really close to 160. Just ten more pounds and the BMI chart wouldn’t think I’m overweight…

All of these thoughts whirred through my mind and have been because of the constant prime of weight loss by these well-meaning questions. I find myself holding in my stomach more. I watch my shadow while running to see if I look thinner there too. I admire how ‘thin’ I look when I lay on my side and everything droops to the floor. But the upper hip looks darn good.

It’s because of this dark reality in my life that I intentionally stay away from weight-related talk. I don’t even know how to respond to those questions anymore because it makes me feel uncomfortable. It reinforces that idea that I wouldn’t look great if I hadn’t lost weight. I would still be unremarkable and chubby. Not great. I stutter and stammer through an answer, coming up with something like ‘well, I AM training for a marathon’ and leave it at that.

I know I’ve talked about this subject before, but I think it bears repeating given the destructive thoughts and actions such comments have wreaked on me over the past couple weeks. I have been lacking in motivation for my running and working out and right now, I wonder if the weight loss talk isn’t a big part of it.

I am working really hard and people notice I’m not as chubby.

Do you know what I notice?

I feel strong. I can go up the stairs carrying kids without as much effort. I can run 20 consecutive miles. I can do some push ups on my toes. I can pop up off the floor more easily than I’ve been able to in months. I can carry heavy stuff more easily now. My clothes don’t hurt and feel really uncomfortable when I wear them. I have more stamina. I have more energy.

Talking only about weight loss minimizes everything else. It perpetuates the idea that weight loss is king (or I suppose queen in the world of women). I don’t do any exercise to lose weight. It’s not a motivator. Weight loss is the only goal that will let you down over and over and over again. Those last five pounds will always hang on. It will always creep back up. It’s not sustainable. It creates an obsession with a mechanical device on the bathroom floor.

It shuts out all the other ways your body is changing when you start to live a healthier lifestyle. It minimizes the fact that you can go upstairs and not be winded. It minimizes that you’re not hefting yourself off the floor. It minimizes that it’s easier to play with your kids.

I get it. Weight is so tangible. That number is so easy to track and to follow. It’s so easy to see forward and backward progress. It’s so insidious, though. Because success is hinging on numbers going down. What if they go back up? Then what? How is your mood? What is your reaction? How do you treat others around you?

What if we could finally let go of this idea? What if we could fully embrace that strength is what matters? That progress of ability is what matters? What if we could ask new questions?

You look stronger. Have you been working on it?
You look fit and healthy. What is your secret?
Have you been working out? You look strong. 

Can we cut the crap with talking about weight? Can we finally stop talking about it?

I am so tired of fighting the urge to scrutinize myself in the mirror. I’m tired of wondering if I’ve lost weight. I’m tired of picking myself apart. I’m tired of wondering where the weight loss has happened. I’m tired of only my lack of chubbiness being noticed.

I am working so hard for the goal of running a marathon and it’s like that ability is so unnoticed. My miles are increasing. I am running easier, faster. And yet with all these weight-related primes, I almost can’t help myself from looking and checking and ultimately being disappointed.

Let’s commit to no more weight talk. Let’s talk about feeling healthy. Let’s talk about feeling good. Let’s talk about seeing different results. Let’s talk about increased miles and increased resistance and increased repetitions. Let’s reframe our fitness goals to not include a number on a mechanical box. Let’s help each other to stay away from that stupid mirror that tells lies about our progress and beats us down because we are not perfect.

Please help me succeed. Find other ways to compliment my hard work. Stop asking about my weight.

the joys of subjective measurement…

i’m talking about working out. you know, exercise. apparently the bug is going around.

when it first came out, oh i think around the beginning of summer or some predictable time like that, i honestly balked at it. i think i’ve said that before around here. i didn’t do that because i don’t like exercise, though. i’m pretty active (well… as active as one can REALLY be when it’s 12 or fewer degrees outside and there is a little druid that needs to be leveled). i like to do things, go for walks, bike rides, and play hockey (coming soon, as in once the outdoor rinks are ready). what i balked at with all the exercise talk going around was the obsession with losing weight. i mean, it’s bad enough that thinness is shoved down our throats every second of every day, and believe me, i have my fair share of time feeling self-conscious and huge and a little too squishy and what have you, but i wasn’t sure if i could handle also hearing it on blogs. i just can’t get behind the ‘need to be thin!’ mantra.

let me just clarify. i’m not overweight (well… maybe according to the new height/weight/BMI chart thingies i am, but seriously, i’m not). i’ve been about 160/165 for the past 5 years (ps. i’m 5’8″). heck, maybe even more. it pretty much doesn’t matter what i do, i stay the same weight. i can exercise more, eat less, blah blah blah, nothing really happens with the weight. if i stop eating for 3 weeks, then i drop a lot, but i’m trying to not make a habit of THAT kind of weight loss.

anyway (i feel like i’m being rambly and not quite all here, i apologize if it’s coming off that way). basically, i kind of have a thing against objective measures of progress (i.e. weight loss, SEEING changes in body appearance, etc.) because i so rarely see them. i MIGHT drop about 5 pounds for 2 days and then it’s back to where it was. and the suspense/drama (did i ACTUALLY drop any weight this time??) is something i can DEFINITELY live without. i don’t want to begin to revolve my life around eating less, exercising more, thinking about it, dreaming about it, talking about it, whatever. i want to be able to live my life and maybe even work toward being fit and healthy at the same time. i do like to know that some progress is being made, though. when i was running over the summer and fall, my progress was watching my minutes per mile drop (AMAZING!!!). then school started and it started getting colder and colder and then we went down to only one car and pretty soon i’m working out at the school wellness center. so this limits me to treadmills (puke) or running 14 laps/mile (demoralizing) or elliptical machines (yawn). i don’t do well on exercise equipment. partly because it’s so boring and partly because i’m a purist – no tv, no music, just the sound of my feet on the pavement and whatever other ambient noise is out there. doesn’t really happen in the gym – there are too many distractions in there (though watching a saved by the bell while on the elliptical wasn’t horrible, but that’s probably just because it was saved by the bell). the distraction of other people (like those super tiny girls who make me feel terrible about myself), tv (only 6 tvs in the little workout area PLUS one on EACH machine, seriously???), the sounds of machines running, beeps, vacuum cleaners and whatever else the staff is doing, trying to stay ON the treadmill and not weave too much to one side or the other, keeping my feet in the elliptical foot thing because for whatever reason, my feet are always right at the front, even if i consciously try to keep them in the back or at least toward the middle, and just all sorts of other things going on while i’m there. now, i’m there at 7 am so there aren’t a WHOLE lot of other people there, which is a benefit. i’d die trying to work out over lunch or something. yuck.

so as i watched times go down and FELT better running and all that, i decided that i’d try to see how this losing weight thing might work. and after staying the exact same weight for 3 weeks, i gave up. WAY too demoralizing and it put my brain in a place that i honestly don’t need it to be. i started to obsess. i thought about it all the time, i really started seeing all these areas of my body that i don’t like, that need to change, places where weight should drop, thinking that my clothes weren’t fitting me right, and just generally feeling like garbage about myself all the time. not healthy.

so one day, i asked james. is this working? are you seeing a difference? are you seeing something that i’m not seeing?

you know what he said?

he sees the changes. he OUTLINED the changes. he told me exactly what’s been changing that he’s been seeing, and while he thinks i’m drop-dead gorgeous, ‘i-can-haz-plz?’ all the time, he likes the changes that he’s seeing. in that moment, something occurred to me.

i don’t NEED a scale to tell me anything. i don’t NEED a tape measure to tell me anything. i have exactly what i need right here, in my apartment, telling me exactly what i need to hear. this kind of measurement that takes into account subtle things, that sees the shifting, that sees the changes in energy and whatever else. i don’t have to let my scale and my clothes tell the story because so often, they create lies. they create the illusion of needing to be just a little smaller, just a little lighter. just a little more and then you’ll be happy. then you’ll feel beautiful. then you’ll have achieved something that you can be proud of. i cannot and i will not let these lies define me and how i should look. i honestly can only let the person who already sees me as beautiful tell me how i should look.

now, yeah, i still see things i’d like to change, i still see things i don’t like, but i know that all i have to do is ask and i get a run down of the TRUTH. i have someone defying the lies with me, sometimes defying the lies for me, especially on those days where i’m just not feeling it. i have help, i just have to remember that. i have strength that isn’t my own to rely on. even on the days i don’t necessarily believe him, i don’t contradict him. i just listen. i try to believe. if nothing else, it’s a challenge for the lie to live up to. this lie is fighting against two people, not just one. one who already mostly believes the lie anyway. i may not be super thin, i may be ‘overweight’, but that does not mean that i am not beautiful. it’s hard to remember that beauty is way beyond skin deep. looks have nothing to do with beauty. it’s the person behind the looks. it’s the attitude, the personality, it’s who they are that makes them beautiful. i have to remember that WHO i am makes me beautiful, not what i ‘look like’. it’s a concept that is hard to internalize sometimes. a lot of the time. the mirror so often lies, telling me that what stares back at me determines so much.

i love working out. i love running. i love feeling better. i just know that i can’t rely on a scale and a mirror to tell me that i’m being successful. i have to rely on something, someone, else. someone who will not feed the lies.

how about you? who do you believe?